This update is from our Election Reality Check series, read them all here.
Take action now! Tell politicians, you will not let them use racism to divide us: www.MigrantRights.ca
Sep 20, 2019 Update: These are talking points to arm you with facts and value statements to help you have conversations with people you have relationships of trust with. While speaking about racism right now, we urge you to focus us on how this is about systematic laws, policies and culture that underwrite Canada, and how they must change. You can – and we all must – put forward a broad anti-racist agenda that lifts us all up, so that no party or politician can distract us from demanding the change we really need.
(1) Blackface is racist.
There is a very specific history of Blackface where white people dressed up in “make up” to create caricatures of Black people, starting in the 1820s. These caricatures and lies form the basis of popular culture about Black people that continue today, and create the conditions for racism, violence and exclusions. Remember Calixa Lavallee, who composed O Canada, started his career as a blackface minstrel. Learn more about Blackface in Canada: read here, here, and listen to a podcast here.
Racialized people, particularly children, are hurt when they see the Prime Minister in Blackface. These images are reminders of all the ways in which they are seen as inferior, been excluded, or tormented. But this is about a lot more than feelings of hurt, this is about systematic laws, policies and culture that underwrite Canada, and how they must change.
(2) Trudeau’s actions were normalized, and that matters.
Trudeau was 29. More importantly, he was a teacher at an expensive private school. This private school distributed photos of him in Blackface in their newsletter. Hundreds of copies exist in the homes of rich families across the country. While Trudeau was dressing up as Aladdin in the Spring of 2001, media reports were full of stories about Muslim men like Mohammad Mahjoub were being jailed indefinitely without trial or charge under so-called security certificates. But Trudeau did it, and the school distributed it without question because racism is so deeply embedded in the culture of the country.
(3) It’s not just this incident, it’s about laws and policies.
Trudeau passed a law under which refugees who have applied in the UK, US, Australia or New Zealand will no longer be able to apply for status here. The federal government has repeatedly ignored human rights tribunal rulings to pay compensation to First Nations children on reserves and in the Yukon who were unnecessarily taken into care. Ottawa has in fact taken First Nations children back to court. Trudeau continues to sell weapons to Saudia Arabia that are employed in the mass killing of Yemenis. Read this article for more on institutional racism.
(4) We need to take a hard look at all the political parties and put forward an anti-racist agenda.
Andrew Scheer wants to make it impossible for refugees to come over from the United States, and won’t accept the findings of genocide by the the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Maxime Bernier wants to slash immigration in half and push through pipelines on Indigenous territories. NDP candidates left their party and moved to the Green Party, because they believed that Jagmeet Singh, who wears a turban, would not be elected.
We must put forward an anti-racist agenda beyond apologies and responses to hate crimes that focuses on decent work, universal services, permanent resident status and full rights on arrival. Its must center Indigenous self-determination, and an end to discrimination and global displacement.
Are you hearing other questions that you are having difficulty responding to? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will update this page and get back to you.